What Are Business Process Flows in Dynamics 365?
A Business Process Flow in Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a tool which is meant to help guide users through a business process in the system. Business process flows are representations of your business processes and are displayed visually in Dynamics 365 as a heading across the top of an entity form.
A business process flow is composed of Stages, and within each stage there are Steps to complete which are fields. In the business process flow heading, a user can see which stage they are at in the process, and which steps they need to complete before they proceed in the process.
Business process flows enable you to require users to complete certain steps before completing the process and if needed you can also allow users to jump stages. They are available for out-of-the-box entities and even your own custom entities. Additionally, an entity can have many business process flows associated with it. They are highly configurable to fit your organizational needs.
One important thing to remember is that BPFs are not automated processes in Dynamics 365. They are meant to be a guide for a user to aid them in completing a process.
Tip! This chapter provides an overview of how business process flows work. You can learn how to create business process flows in the Business Administration section of The CRM Book.
Out-of-the-Box Business Process Flow
Dynamics 365 comes with a several out-of-the-box business process flows
To see a list of your available business process flows, navigate to the Settings area, and click on Processes.
Under Processes, change your view to Business Process Flows.
To introduce you to how business process flows are used, let’s look at the Lead to Opportunity Sales Process business process flow.
Since this process flow’s primary entity is Lead, it begins on the lead entity. When you create a new lead, the process flow bar is displayed at the top of the form.
In some instances, users may feel comfortable working through a business process without using the process flow to guide them. Users can choose to collapse the process flow bar by clicking:
Then, the user can continue to work on the entity form without having the entire process flow bar displayed:
Users can also click on the Process button in the Command Bar to change to a different business process, if one is available for that entity and the user’s security role allows access to another business process, or they can abandon the process entirely. In the case of abandoning a business process flow the bar will become gray. Business process flows can be reactivated at anytime by clicking on the Process button and choosing Reactivate. Any information collected in steps previously is not lost.
Business process flows are composed of Stages. Here, you can see that the first stage is Qualify and is followed by Develop, Propose, and Close. You can tell which stage is the active stage because it will indicate (Active) next to the stage title, and have a flag icon. There is also a timer that shows you how long the record has been in the stage, as well as the entire process.
Within each stage, there are several steps that users should fill in before moving onto the next stage in the business process flow. Some steps my include populating required fields before proceeding to the next step. Required fields in the business process flow are independent of the form save.
After filling out the required information, click Next Stage to move on and get the next set of steps. However, stages may remain locked if you have not completed necessary fields or actions. For example, in this process you still have to manually Qualify or Disqualify the lead before moving on to the Develop stage.
Once you qualify the Lead, it automatically moves you to the Develop stage and you can see that it is now on a different entity:
The user will continue to move through the stages, completing the steps, until they have completed the process.
Microsoft also has several additional ready-to-use processes that you can add to your CRM. Please refer here for more information: Microsoft Additional Ready-to-Use Processes.
Branching Business Process Flows
Business Process Flows are used like a recipe to guide users through specific business processes.
In Dynamics 365 Business Process Flows can be used to model and guide users through complex processes and include innovations to make them more user friendly. Just like in previous versions, different process can be available for the same record type and utilized depending on a user’s security role.
What if your current business processes aren’t strictly linear. For example, an auto dealer may have different processes depending on if a lead is looking for a used or new car. Business Process Flows allow a system administrator to use IF/ELSE clauses to advance to different stages in the process depending on the information entered in the previous stage. It is also possible to merge branches into a single flow again.
All of this is easily edited through the configuration UI. You can create a Business Process Flow for a single entity or to move across different entities; even revisit an entity in a cross entity business process.
System Configurators can programmatically update Business Process Flows to do things like collapse the process control bar, advance to the next Stage or skip a stage. It’s possible to programmatically change the Business Process Flow being used. These options reduce clicks and improve user adoption by making Business Process Flows even more user friendly. The support for rule based branching and non-linear processes allow more users take advantage of this powerful business process tool.
Beyond the Basics
If you want a more formal introduction to Dynamics 365 and business process flows, check out Dynamics 365 University’s CRM Boot Camp for Dynamics 365.